The Crimean War and the Coastguards. 1854

The Crimean War and the Coastguards. 1854

During the war, 3,000 men of the Coastguard were drafted to the Fleet. The Revenue Cruisers were sent to intercept the enemy’s shipping in the Channel and in this they were remarkably successful. Parliament was told in 1856 that the cruisers had captured eleven vessels and that eight had been condemned.

Their success was due to information supplied by consular officials in neutral countries. The British Consul in Oporto reported that ’during the last six months four vessels arrived under the Russian flag and left under the Hanovarian flag. Without a change of master or crew.

A Revenue boat from Folkestone, under Lt.George Durbin detained the 400 ton Russian barque ‘Kamschatka’, from Cadiz for Elsinore having a crew of 15 men, with a cargo of salt. In April 1854 the Spithead Revenue cruiser ‘Argus’ boarded and detained the Russian barque ‘Froija’ bound for the Baltic with a cargo of salt.Four days later the same cruiser under Commander Grandy detained the ‘Livonia’ also laden with salt. Two days later the Revenue Cruiser ‘Petrel’ under John Hughes, off St.Catherine’s Point, boarded and detained the barque ‘Fama’ of Wasa from Sardinia with a cargo of salt. The Revenue Cruiser ‘Lion’ captured the Russian brigantine ‘Johannes’, from Cadiz bound for Elsinore with a cargo of salt.

This brought the total captures in one week to four and deprived the Russians if not of contraband stores of war, of a large quantity of salt. Before the war ended the enemy had lost another seven vessels to the Revenue cruiser patrols, again mainly loaded with salt.

Reference; "Shipminder" by Bernard Scarlett.

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